STRAYED (André Téchiné, 2003)

A family—Odile, a widowed schoolteacher, and her two children—fleeing from Paris as the Germans advance in June 1940 and meeting in a forest a stranger, a 17-year-old boy with a shaved head, with whose life their own fates become intertwined: this is the premise of a lovely and fascinating 2003 film, Les égarés (called here, Strayed), from a novel by Gilles Perrault, expertly directed by prolific André Téchiné, and delicately color cinematographed by gifted, versatile Agnès Godard. All the acting is good, including Gaspard Ulliel’s as the secretive, mistrustful stranger who gives his name as Yvan. Many films have taken as their theme how war disrupts lives; here, however, war stills time, pressuring lives into a dimension other than reality. (The quartet takes refuge in an abandoned mansion.) But at the last, after the mother and Yvan make love in the dark under the stars (with the boy striking a lighter, because he has never seen a naked woman before), reality intrudes, forfeiting a dear though unappreciated life. One aches to turn back the clock and have all this play out differently; but how? “The war is over.”

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